Twitter shares jump on reports it’s close to a deal with Elon Musk

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Elon Musk was nearing a deal to take over Twitter, putting one of the world’s most influential social media platforms in the hands of its richest person, according to media reports and signals from Musk’s own Twitter on Monday.

Musk hinted that a deal was close, laying out his vision for the future of Twitter in a midday tweet.

“I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means,” he wrote.

Twitter shares spiked 5 percent in premarket trading on reports the company’s board could sign off on a deal with the Tesla CEO as soon as Monday.

The company’s board of directors met with Musk on Sunday, and negotiations extended into the early hours of Monday, the New York Times reported, citing people speaking on the condition of anonymity. The two sides were discussing such details as a timeline to close a potential deal and any fees that would be paid if such an agreement later fell apart, according to the report.

Monday morning, Musk liked tweets related to his apparent acquisition plans — including one that read, “If this is true, truly thrilled for Twitter and @elonmusk.”

“It’s one of the most important services in the world, needed a shake up and probably couldn’t be in better hands,” the tweet added.

Twitter’s stock surged to $51.25 in early trading off the news.

Twitter kicked off deal negotiations with Elon Musk on April 24 after he wooed many of the social media company’s shareholders. (Video: Reuters)

Twitter had seemed poised to reject the Tesla CEO’s unsolicited offer of $54.20 a share for the social media platform. Then Musk outlined his financing, saying he secured $46.5 billion though bank loans and his own equity. Those details seemed to lend more credibility to his bid.

Musk had also met privately with several large Twitter shareholders in recent days, with some expressing their support for his bid, according to a person briefed on the discussions who were not authorized to speak about them.

If the deal goes through, it would put Twitter in the hands of the world’s richest man and one of its most popular users, with more than 83 million followers.

Musk is worth about $259 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index, but much of his wealth is tied up in stock. The entrepreneur serves as CEO of electric car company Tesla, aerospace company SpaceX, and co-founded payment service PayPal.

What is going on with Elon Musk and Twitter?

Musk took a more than 9 percent stake in Twitter earlier this year, leading to two wild weeks of back-and-forth with the company. The company announced he would join the board, then days later said he had withdrawn.

Musk launched his takeover bid soon after. He has said he wants to promote free speech on Twitter and plans to take the company private.

Elon Musk is worth $270 billion. He’d buy Twitter with an IOU.

Twitter adopted a so-called “poison pill” strategy to throw a roadblock in front of Musk’s offer, as it essentially is designed to make it more expensive and complicated for him to acquire the company.

The strategy, known as a shareholder rights plan, would let investors buy Twitter stock at a discounted price unavailable to Musk. Their shares would then trade at a market value of double what they paid. The flood of new, lower-cost shares would dilute Musk’s stake while potentially making it prohibitively expensive for Musk to buy the company.

But Musk’s financing plan and the board’s willingness to entertain “constructive conversation” makes a deal more likely, according to Angelo Zino, an analyst with CFRA Research.

“It appears that Elon does have the Board backed into a corner,” Zino said Monday in comments emailed to The Post.

Some Tesla investors have bristled at Musk’s bid because they say it distracts from his responsibilities as chief executive and could slow momentum at one of the world’s most valuable automakers. And internally, Twitter employees have raised concerns about Musk’s potential effect on the culture.

Musk is very active on the platform, having tweeted more than 17,300 times. He averages 125,180 likes per tweet, according to Socialtracker. Musk has earned praise for his wide-ranging approach to the site: he toggles freely between crude memes of his rivals, polls on the state of free speech and critical business decisions.

His tweets have gotten him in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission: In 2018, he wrote that he had “Funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 a share.

He said he chose the number $420 “because he had recently learned about the number’s significance in Marijuana culture and thought his girlfriend would find it funny, which admittedly is not a great reason to pick a price,” according to the federal complaint.

Musk has spent weeks tweeting on the necessity of “free speech” on the platform, taking issue with permanent bans and calling for Twitter to make its algorithm public.

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